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How cloud computing and mobile IT help and hurt DR strategies

Arguments abound on whether cloud computing and mobile IT improve or undermine DR strategies. Disaster recovery expert Paul Kirvan adds his two cents.

Paul Kirvan, FBCI, CBCP, CISSP

Paul Kirvan, 

Does cloud computing improve enterprise business continuity (BC) and disaster recovery (DR) strategies? In what areas should CIOs use caution when considering this outsourcing model for DR and BC planning?

In this podcast, Paul Kirvan shares the pros and cons of making cloud computing and mobile IT a component of DR strategies with SearchCIO.com Executive Editor Christina Torode. Kirvan, FBCI, CBCP, CISSP, has more than 20 years' experience in business continuity management as a consultant, author and educator. He is also secretary of the Business Continuity Institute USA Chapter.

SearchCIO.com: There are arguments for and against the public cloud in terms of business continuity and disaster recovery strategies. How would you say a public cloud partnership would improve BC and DR strategies and in what particular situations?

Paul Kirvan: What you are describing is a situation where a third-party organization offers a cloud-based business continuity and/or disaster recovery solution. The primary offering is usually for off-site storage of critical business data and/or systems. Successful implementation of this solution assumes the customer has done an analysis of his or her organization’s critical business and data requirements and has identified data files, databases, applications and maybe even operating systems that could be replicated in a cloud environment. 

Smart CIOs know that a cloud-based BC/DR solution alone is too risky.

Check to make sure the cloud service provider has the ability to rapidly back up and recover and restore these critical business assets so that recovery time objectives and recovery point objectives can be satisfied. Cloud-based recovery can make sense by providing an alternate source for recovering business-critical systems and data. If a disaster occurs that damages or destroys critical on-site systems and data, an off-site cloud-based solution that can rapidly restore these critical assets makes good sense. The cloud service may also be a suitable repository for BC and DR plans and related documentation needed following the onset of a disaster.

Does not knowing exactly where your data resides within a public cloud providers’ infrastructure present roadblocks, and how can a CIO mitigate this risk?

Smart CIOs know that a cloud-based BC/DR solution alone is too risky. It’s like putting all your critical IT eggs into a single basket and is not a prudent strategy.  Suppose the service provider has a system failure of its own? What happens to customer data and systems being supported? Does the cloud services company have its own backup solution? Have you seen the plan? 

A better approach for CIOs is to balance premises-based and off-site solutions for business continuity and disaster recovery. By combining premises-based solutions, such as tape, optical storage or SAN [storage area network] technology, with cloud-based solutions, and balancing the storage algorithm for critical data across both on-site and cloud solutions, CIOs can recover data within time frames they set, while spreading the risk across more than a single solution. We call this a “hybrid” approach, as it leverages cloud-based solutions with other BC and DR arrangements. 

Listen to the entire podcast:

Let us know what you think about the story; email Christina Torode, executive editor.

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